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10 Top Usability Tips for Web Sites 1 Don't assume your visitors know anything about you or your site No matter how clever, how smart, or how important you think your site is, your visitors aren't going to care if they have to fight through clever marketing terms and confusing links.
2 Treat your links well Links are gateways into your site: Underline or unequivocally identify text links and make buttons look clickable. Write meaningful link labels. If you use icons, label them clearly.
3 Don't force users to register until it's absolutely necessary On shopping sites, let users purchase without registering; on content sites, show some content first; on service sites, give them a sample before making them register.
4 Don't be shy Don't hide your contact information. Credibility comes from easy access to your digits. If you sell products, put your e-mail and telephone number on your homepage.
5 Don't employ radical navigation just to be different Some sites employ unusual navigation and terminology to stand out from the crowd. Most of these sites eventually retreat to conventional menu systems. Unless your site is experiential, stick to common navigational practices.
6 Keep your pages lean If you're peddling products, services, or information, don't slow your users down with unnecessary graphics and animation. Free pass to art sites, designers, and entertainment portals catering to high-bandwidth users.
7 Make your homepage a gateway Your homepage should highlight the main activities of your site. "Bubble up" content to show users what they'll find. Define a start point for new users. Don't let your homepage look like all your others.
8 Don't hide search If your site has search, put a search box on every page. If the search is limited, let the user know. Don't put two search boxes on a page, even if they search different areas of your site.
9 Stay on message Keep informational copy concise. Use bullet points, paragraph headers, and active sentences. Expunge marketing babble. When you're done, go back and cut your word count by half.
10 Run guerrilla usability tests Find five people to test your site. Watch them navigate and attempt tasks as they "think aloud" their actions. It's a problem if more than one tester can't do or find something. Remember, it's not the users' fault if they have trouble: it's a design flaw.
If you would like to discuss any of these points with our expert staff, please call to arrange an informal meeting on 0870 1909419.
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